A self-helper needs to have hope. Even when people suffer serious
losses (divorce, get cancer, permanently disabled), individuals have all
kinds of reactions--sadness, anger, stress, apathy--but under certain
conditions a person will strive mightily to regain his/her mastery over
the situation (Sears, Peplau, Freedman & Taylor, 1988, pp. 147-152).
Cancer victims, for instance, sometimes learn all they can and
vigorously fight the cancer, which can be helpful. People who have
been rejected by a lover try to understand what happened; that can
help. Paraplegics, who take some responsibility for their accident and
don't entirely blame others, cope with their paralysis better. Women,
who avoid blaming their moral character ("I'm irresponsible, weak,
bad...") for their unwanted pregnancies, handle having an abortion
better than self-blamers. It is important to believe we can help
ourselves... and to prove it by our actions.
This method summarizes several specific methods for changing our
attitudes, our expectations, or our views of the situation.
The greatest discovery of my generation (about 1900) is that human beings can alter their
lives by altering their attitudes of mind.
There are many attitudes that may help us feel better about
ourselves or others, more in control of our lives, and more accepting of
whatever happens to us. Here are some suggestions.
STEP ONE: Accurately assess your attitudes.
From self-observation, you realize certain attitudes--you are
pessimistic or optimistic, religious or agnostic, extroverted or
introverted, careful or impulsive, etc. From others' comments, you
may suspect that you have certain traits--tolerant or critical,
perfectionistic or sloppy, chauvinist or feeling inferior, etc. From tests
or scales, you can get factual information about how your attitudes
compare to others, for example several previous chapters provide brief
measures of concern for others (chapter 3), stress (chapter 5),
sadness and perfectionism (chapter 6), anger and distrust of others
(chapter 7), internalizer-externalizer (chapter 8), strength of parent,
adult and child (chapter 9), meaning of sex to you (chapter 10), self-
esteem (chapter 14), use of defense mechanisms (chapter 15), and
others. There are hundreds of attitude tests, including.......